Given the rapidly accumulating positive research outcomes for vitamin D, noted vitamin-D expert Robert Heaney of Creighton University, made a strong case in the closing session of Nutracon for revising the nation’s recommended daily intake of this essential nutrient.
Vitamin D greatly influences the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Currently the recommended daily intake (RDI) is delineated by age: up to age 50, the RDI is 200iu/day; age 50-70 the RDI is 400iu/day; and after age 70, the RDI is 600iu/day.
These figures were based on the amounts needed to prevent rickets and osteomolacia, Heaney said, but most of what we’ve learned about the beneficial effects of vitamin D and the way it works in the body, we’ve learned since 1997. Since then, the American Pediatric Society has doubled its recommendation to 400iu/day, and the Canadian Cancer Society has recommended a minimum of 1000iu/day for all adults.
Sharing the results of study after study on the effects of vitamin D in diseases such as osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer, Heaney demonstrated that even in small doses the nutrient contributed significantly to healthier outcomes. One remarkable study even showed that the administering of calcium plus vitamin D resulted in reducing the fall rate among the elderly by 49 percent.
Heaney’s own studies at Creighton have shown that the body consumes 4000iu/day from all sources, including sunlight, food and supplements. If there are low levels of vitamin D in the body – and this is demonstrably true for most people – the body cannot absorb enough calcium to keep it healthy. Also, even with ingestion of 40,000iu of vitamin D, the body appears to know how to regulate how much to absorb, so that blood serum levels never rise to a toxic level.
With what we know today, he says, the minimum oral input for all adults should be 1000-2000iu/day, and universal supplementation of 2700iu/day would bring 95 percent of the population to a healthy level.